Noam’s fall seminar—when I first attended, as an accidental visitor—started with a presentation of why studying language was worthwhile, a path to try to answer old questions about human knowledge and the mind.
I knew no linguistics but the thoughts were limpid, their foundations transparent and laid bare for all to grasp, agree or disagree. Those were the standards. An inspiring roadmap and a surprise for the boy from the city of lights who had had to imagine that obscure could mean deep.
That fall, Noam also talked about how to interpret current events, in the light of history, knowledge, reason, and ideals of justice. Same standards. A comfort and a moral compass, to this day.
Listening to “Le Chom,” a nickname of respect for a teacher, felt like coming home, a home feared to no longer exist. But there it was.
And there it is.